By Simon Hart
These are good times for VFB Stuttgart. Unbeaten in the Bundesliga and already assured a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, Felix Magath's young side are thriving at home and abroad. And according to one old boy, the former Germany striker Jürgen Klinsmann, there is no reason why the good times cannot get even better.
Klinsmann, who played for Stuttgart from 1984-89, now follows their fortunes from Los Angeles, where he works for SoccerSolutions, a sports marketing consultancy. He is "very excited" for his former club who tonight visit Manchester United FC needing to avoid defeat to secure first place in Group E.
"I think they are playing beautiful football, very fresh, and have a couple of exciting young players coming up, breaking through into the national team and it seems as though the coach, Felix Magath, has a very good sense of how to deal with that younger generation," Klinsmann told uefa.com. "It's exciting and I'm just following that as a fan basically."
'Spirit makes the difference'
Klinsmann, speaking in his capacity as a Mastercard ambassador, considers Stuttgart's spirit key to their success. "There's a lot of individual talent in the team but their spirit makes the difference. It seems like as a group of guys they've found each other.
"They're getting along on and off the field and there's a coach that's guided them in the last couple of years and developed a very special relationship with his players. It makes the difference and with a good run comes more confidence and with more confidence you get better and suddenly they break into the national team which makes them feel even stronger.
Feet on the ground
Everyone is curious to see how long this will last but I think they are already at a point where they are pretty consistent. They keep their feet on the ground, they're not getting crazy in their minds, I think they are over that point and from a management point of view they're doing a great job now prolonging the contracts of those talented players already for a long-term connection with the club."
Prominent among Stuttgart's talented youngsters is striker Kevin Kuranyi, who, together with defender Andreas Hinkel, has graduated to the senior Germany side this year. Klinsmann, who scored 47 goals in 108 appearances for his country, believes the 21-year-old has "huge potential".
"I think he is not only just a very good goalscorer in that he has the nose for where to be at the right time and also the coolness to finish it off, you can see in his movement that he is still ready to improve and to learn more," he said. "Being part of the national team, that will help him even more so he will raise his level again."
While Kuranyi may be coveted by other clubs, Klinsmann hopes "he puts his development first before considering the money". He said: "Even if Stuttgart try to keep up with the other clubs they don't have the financial backbone yet. Let's say Internazionale [FC], AC Milan or Real Madrid [CF] come and say 'We want that kid', it's going to be very tough to keep him but they're working on that issue right now very hard and
I hope he stays with the club at least another two or three seasons."
On the rise
As the son of Stuttgart bakers, Klinsmann knows better than to rush things. Stuttgart's rise may not be over yet.
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